Lummi Nation begins journey to Miami in effort to bring Puget Sound orca home
LUMMI NATION, Wash. - Blessings and faith launched the Lummi Nation’s totem journey to Miami’s Seaquarium on Thursday.
The 3,000 mile, 13-day journey will feature 16 stops beginning with Seattle, Tacoma and Portland.
The Lummi’s are making an effort to convince the management of the marine park in Miami to let Lolita return to a penned-off cove on Orcas Island to spend the rest of her life.
The 52-year-old orca was taken for Penn Cover near Whidbey Island when Orcas were rounded up and sold to various theme parks.
Tokitae, as the Lummi’s call her, has been performing at the Seaquarium for 47 years.
At a sendoff ceremony at the Lummi’s tribal headquarters on Thursday, participants gave blessings, said prayers and laid hands on a 20-foot-long totem of an orca - that includes a carving of a native woman riding behind the dorsal fin.
“We are letting the people come and put their hands on it, adding their prayers to it,” said Doug James, who along with his brother Jewel, carved the totem and with be driving it to Miami.
The group will be making 16 stops that include Los Angeles, San Diego, Tucson, Abilene, Austin, Houston, Tallahassee eventually arriving in Miami on May 22nd.
The journey’s purpose is to raise awareness of the plight of the Orcas in the Salish Sea and specifically Lolita. It’s also intended to start a conversation between the Lummi’s and Seaquarium, a conversation the tribe’s chairman is hoping to have.
This is where the Lummi’s say faith will play a big role.
“So we can come together as partners with the Seaquarium and do this together, ultimately that would be the best outcome,” sais Lummi Nation Chairman Jay Julius.
“Whatever days she has upon this earth, let her live out her days here with her family, she earned that, she’s made enough money for them,” said James.
The group of eight people will be making the entire trip, towing the carving of an orca in the hopes a real orca is in their future.
You can follow the Lummi's trip to Miami here.